LSU Football: 6 options to replace Bo Pelini as Tigers’ defensive coordinator

LSU Football ahead of a matchup against Alabama(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
LSU Football ahead of a matchup against Alabama(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Could LSU football be looking for a new defensive coordinator after the 2020 season?

Shortly after LSU football beat Clemson to claim the College Football Playoff trophy in early 2020, the Tigers were in the market for a new defensive coordinator.

Dave Aranda, who served as LSU’s defensive coordinator from 2016-2019, left Baton Rouge to become the new head coach at Baylor.

Typically, losing a key assistant from a national championship-winning team would be viewed as a negative. But it seemed like there were plenty of fans who were ready to move on from Aranda. His defenses played “good enough” at LSU, but they were never dominating.

Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron replaced Aranda with Bo Pelini, the former Nebraska head coach who spent three seasons as Les Miles’ defensive coordinator at LSU in the mid-2000s.

Home run hire, right?

Well, I thought so.

And I guess I was wrong.

Pelini hasn’t worked out all that well at LSU so far.

The Tigers gave up 34.9 points per game this season (No. 98 in the nation). That’s unacceptable at LSU — even with a new defensive coordinator and a lot of talent to replace.

On top of the less-than-desirable defensive results, it often felt like there was some tension between Coach O and Pelini.

“Definitely not pleased by the way we played most of the season,” said Orgeron in late November (via Rivals). “We need to improve to be a championship defense, and everybody knows that.”

It’s not necessarily inevitable that Orgeron moves on from Pelini, but it’s looking like a strong possibility.

The Athletic’s Brody Miller reported this week that it’s “likely” that LSU parts ways with Pelini.

If that happens, then I think Orgeron will have several strong candidates to consider.

Here are six that I think could be a fit in Baton Rouge next season.

1. Will Muschamp — Former South Carolina head coach

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This is one that I mentioned earlier this year already.

Muschamp will be a hot commodity when it comes to defensive coordinators (as he was in 2015 after he was fired as Florida’s head coach).

The former Gamecocks head coach has always had a strong reputation as a defensive coordinator. And he has plenty of experience (most recently as Auburn’s defensive coordinator in 2015 and before that at Texas as the Longhorns’ defensive coordinator from 2008-2010).

The one thing that could give Orgeron pause is that fact that Muschamp was Pelini’s predecessor at LSU (Muschamp was Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator in Baton Rouge from 2002-04).

If Pelini’s second stint with the Tigers didn’t work out, why would Muschamp’s?

That may not be a fair question to ask, but it’s certainly something that has to be mentioned when discussing Muschamp.

However, I still think hiring Muschamp would be a good move. He has plenty of connections in the SEC when it comes to recruiting and he knows the league as well as anyone.